There is a COVID-19 nursing home crisis. In August advocates for Pennsylvania nursing home residents released a report that proposed immediate reforms the state might make to address those shortcomings that rendered PA long-term care facilities so vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to prepare Pennsylvania nursing homes for another COVID wave.

Entitled “Immediate Actions Pennsylvania Must Take to Address the COVID-19 Crisis in Long-Term Care Facilities,” the report was composed through the efforts of The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE), Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and other advocacy organizations. It is a 30-page document suggesting 42 changes relating not only to infection prevention, response, and mitigation, but also to resident’s rights, staffing, oversight, and transparency. Among these recommendations are the following proposed changes that could better safeguard the state’s most vulnerable citizens:

  • Conducting regular COVID-19 testing of all residents and staff
  • Implementing better infection control practices
  • Ensuring adequate personal protective equipment is purchased and distributed to nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • Raising hygiene standards for employees
  • Providing increased training to staff
  • Increasing staff compensation, particularly through hazard pay
  • Resuming annual surveys and conducting more rigorous inspections
  • Improving communication and increasing transparency for sharing information with patients, their families, and the public

An editorial in the Philadelphia inquirer illustrates that the report’s suggestions for dozens of regulatory and operational changes point to long-standing, pre-pandemic deficiencies in standards, resources, and state oversight. These patterns of nursing home neglect set the stage for PA nursing homes to be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Sixty-seven percent of the state’s COVID deaths (over 5,000 of 7,500 total) were PA long-term care residents, whose age and health in the first instance made them particularly susceptible to COVID-19.

While acknowledging that Pennsylvania has already implemented certain improvements in the midst of the pandemic, the editorial suggests, in light of the many lives lost among PA nursing home residents, that implementing the proposed changes in this report could tackle some of the present challenges presented by COVID while also safeguarding PA nursing home residents—some 122,000 people statewide—in the future.

Holding Nursing Homes to Top Safety Standards in Critical Times

An international pandemic makes for an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that you can trust your loved one’s Pennsylvania or New Jersey nursing home adheres to the highest safety precautions. Should you become concerned about the safety or quality of care of a Philadelphia/PA or NJ facility during COVID, or if you suspect neglect, abuse, or fraud has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.